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Matschie's Tree Kangaroo

Has the longest gestation period of any marsupial

Order: Diprotodontia Prev. Marsupialia

Family: Macropodidae

Genus & Species: Dendrolagus matschiei


Matschie's tree kangaroo is an unusual looking marsupial of New Guinea. They are small in size, only 20-30 in (50-76 cm) in body length - roughly the size of a wallaby. The long cylindrical, non-prehensile tail is used for balance while leaping among the branches and is 17- 36 in (42.5-90 cm) in length. Sexual dimorphism is present, with the females being larger than the males. Females weigh 17 lbs (7.5 kg) and males weigh 15 lbs (6 kg). The body is short and stocky, and the forelimbs are almost as long as the hindlimbs. The feet are shorter and broader than those of ground kangaroos, and all four end in curved claws used for climbing. Pad-like patches of roughened skin are located on the feet and aid with gripping. The feet lack opposable thumbs. The head is small and the eyes are large. The ears are small and yet larger than those of other tree kangaroo species, and the feet are shorter.

Matschie's tree kangaroos have thick, dense fur that grow in opposite directions on the back and nape of the neck, allowing water to easily run off their body. The fur is mahogany-coloured or red on the back, and bright yellow on the limbs, feet, tail, and edges of the ears. A dark stripe runs down the back. The face is yellow and white.

Matschie's tree kangaroos are agile climbers, although less agile than other tree kangaroo species, and can leap down 30 ft (9 m) to another branch, or 60 ft (12 m) to the ground. On the ground they prefer to walk instead of hop, but can hop to speeds of 4.8 km/h when in danger. They have a life span of 14 years in captivity.


Matschie's tree kangaroos are found at an altitude of 3000-5000 ft (900-1500 m) above sea level. They are located in the mountainous tropical deciduous and tropical rainforests of New Guinea. They are found exclusively on Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea, as well as on the nearby island of Umboi.

Matschie's tree kangaroos are arboreal, meaning they live in trees, and spend little time on the ground. They are solitary creatures and come together only to mate. The males require a large territory that will overlap several of the females' smaller territories. They sleep for 60% of their lives, curled up in the nearest tree. They feed during the day.


Matschie's tree kangaroos are considered herbivores, although they will feed upon animals. The main portion of their diet consists of leaves, but they will also feed upon flowers, fruits, nuts, bark, sap, bird eggs, bird young, and insects. In the zoo they are fed fruit leaves, apples, carrots, corn, kale, timothy hay, spinach leaves, alfalfa, lettuce, celery, and hard-boiled eggs. They are also fed tea leaves to make up for the tannin present in the leaves they eat in the wild. Without these leaves, the rich colours of the coat would dull.


Matschie's tree kangaroos are primarily hunted by the natives of Papua New Guinea. They are traditionally hunted by natives with dingos, which sniff the kangaroos out and grab them from the trees. Doing it this way allows many of them to escape. However, the introduction of guns to the island has placed their future in jeopardy. They are hunted for their succulent meat. Matschie's tree kangaroos are endangered, with only 1400 left in the wild. Breeding programs in zoos worldwide are helping to conserve this species.


Matschie's tree kangaroos have no defined mating season, although mating does drop off from October to March in captivity. Females go into heat every 51-79 days. They have a gestation period of 39-45 days, the longest of any known marsupial. 1-2 days before birth, the females isolates herself. She then takes up the birthing position: sitting on the base of her tail with the tail between her legs. The joey is born less than 1 in (2.5 cm) in length. It takes 2 min for it to crawl into the mother's pouch, which she cleans right before birth, and then grab hold of a teat. It remains this way for 100 days. After 250 days it looks out of the pouch; after 300 days it ventures out; after 350 days it is independent of the pouch.


There are 8 species of tree kangaroo found in New Guinea and 2 in Australia.


4. Diprotodontia/Macropodidae/Dendrolagus_matschie.ftl